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Tetradrachm (Coin) Depicting Arethusa

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.


474-450 BCE


Greek, minted in Syracuse, Sicily

About this artwork

The front (obverse) of this coin depicts the head of Arethusa facing to the head, her head circled by dolphins. On the back (reverse) is a charioteer with a winged Nike flying above to crown horses with a wreath.

To escape the unwanted attentions of the river god Alpheus, the nymph Arethusa swam under the sea to the island of Sicily, where she found sanctuary. Arethusa’s path was said to explain the freshwater spring that miraculously bubbled into the nymph’s pool and that still exists in Syracuse. When this coin was issued, Syracuse was one of the most powerful cities in the Mediterranean basin. Local civic pride was emboldened by a series of ambitious tyrants, who enlarged the city’s territory and also encouraged the arts.


On View, Gallery 151


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Greek


Tetradrachm (Coin) Depicting Arethusa


Ancient Greece (Minted in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

474 BCE–450 BCE




Diam.: 2.6 cm (1 1/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of William F. Dunham

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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